10.22.2006

Newton Police Department, circa 1889

This is great: An account of the size and responsibilities of the Newton Police Department in olden times, from M.F. Sweester's "King's Handbook of Newton" (1889):
The police force numbers 3 officers and 20 patrolmen. Of the latter, 4 are stationed at Newton, 3 each at Nonantum, West Newton, and Newton Center, 2 at Newtonville, and 1 each at Auburndale, Newton Lower Falls, Newton Upper Falls, Newton Highlands, and Chestnut Hill. There are also 6 police officers subject to call for special service. This vigilant civic force makes between 500 and 600 arrests each year, about one-third which are of persons who have imbibed too freely, while perhaps 100 are incarcerated for disturbances of the peace, and 50 or more for larcenies. Most of the rueful culprits are foreigners, some of whom are also represented among the 1,200 tramps that are yearly cared for by the city authorities. There are police stations at Newton, Nonantum, West Newton, and Newton Center. The City Council has just provided for the introduction of a police electric signal alarm.
Definitely not politically correct, but very interesting just the same -- this is an era before telephones and automobiles, and police could only be notified of problems in person -- which necessitated the force having an officer or two in every village of Newton.

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